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I Hate Shopping

by Diane Girard


My friends practice therapeutic shopping. Dee's a ferocious bargain-hunter who's drawn to dollar stores and celebrates every find, and even my reclusive bear-like friend who seldom buys necessities haunts music stores. But I can't join them because I hate shopping.

I hate to shop for anything, anytime, anywhere. I know this is not normal female behavior. Guilt plagues me each time I read a borrowed magazine and don't buy anything shown on its pages. However, when I think about shopping my head hurts, my self-esteem shrivels and my wallet disappears. I can't blame my mother: she didn't have this problem. Maybe therapy would help me adjust and deal with this syndrome because bad things happen when I shop.

For instance, about three months ago I pulled the plug on my washer's miserable leaky life. The dryer had to go too. It whined like a cranky child and seldom obeyed the heat command. After they went to appliance heaven, it was time to buy new ones but, my wallet suffered an anxiety attack and I chose avoidance. I became a Laundromat habitu. I could wash and dry four or five loads in ninety minutes and could dream, read a book, or write letters while I waited. The cost kept interrupting my reveries. All those quarters and dollars going, going, going every week compelled me comparison-shop.

My wallet wriggled away every time I planned to leave the house. Eventually, I went to seven different appliance stores and dragged my recalcitrant wallet along. The sales people intimidated me and so did the complicated appliances. I was afraid I'd fail the user test. Apparently, you can program a washer to do everything except tap dance. Dancing is forbidden. Finally, I found the perfect front-loading washer/dryer combination. It fits my tiny space and I may even finish paying for it some day. Probably about the same time I learn to program it correctly and it decides to die.

For a while after that adventure, I abstained from almost every type of shopping while I recovered from post-shopping distress syndrome. My wallet thanked me and my self-esteem began to recover.

Then, last week, I thought I should buy some new slacks. Not a big deal you say, and you would be right except I couldn't do it. I went into a ladies-wear store at the mall. There were several size 2 women in the store when the aggressive sales person cornered me.

"What can I help you with, dear?"

"I'm sort of looking for a pair of slacks," I said.

"You look like about a size fourteen dear."

"Uh, no, yes, maybe I thought I was a twelve or a ten uh" I muttered.

"Oh no, you're definitely a fourteen" she said loudly to the audience of size 2's.

"I think I forgot to put money in the meter, I'll be back" I whispered.

I left the store, and tried to find my way out of the mall. They don't make it easy. I had planned to do some more shopping, but what if I ran into that sales person again? She'd tell me there are no parking meters. Another store added to my stores to avoid list. I live in a small city and it's only a matter of time before all the available stores are on the list unless I get help. I need someone who'll provide unconditional positive support and help me acquire a shopping habit.

I do have the habit of buying groceries. Most of the things on my list are either at the back of the store or in the aisles furthest from the entrance. Pretending to have tunnel vision helps me sidle past the nonessential items. The shopping list would help too, but I always leave it at home. I reinforced my positive behaviour and reminded myself that I can cope with shopping, if I take it one day at a time. Then, another bad thing happened.

This morning I decided to vacuum. I should have waited until the stores were closed. Why? Because the vacuum cleaner decided its time had come. It ended its life with a screech, burning out its motor and flinging dust in my face. I could swear I heard it say, "Vengeance is mine! This is for all the times you didn't change my bag soon enough"

Already I have the beginnings of a headache; my wallet has buried itself in the sofa and won't come out.


Diane Girard is 59 years old and lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada near her family of a daughter and two grandsons. Diane began writing poetry and fiction in grade school and has continued to scribble for her own pleasure while earning a living in different ways. She has had several careers and is currently not considering becoming a consultant.

Flattering comments may be sent to her via e-mail at



©2003 Diane Girard for SeniorWomenWeb
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